Galena - Mineral and Healing Properties

Chemistry: PbS, Lead Sulfide

Class: Sulfides

Group: Galena

Uses: Major ore of lead and silver

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  • Galena
  • Galena & Calcite


Galena is a common and popular mineral for rock hounds. Its characteristic cubes, distinctive cleavage and high density make it easy to identify and a favorite in high school geology labs. The structure of Galena is identical to that of halite, NaCl. The two minerals have the same crystal shapes, symmetry and cleavage. Some Galena may contain up to 1% silver in place of lead. The large volume of Galena that is processed for lead produces enough Silver as a by product to make Galena the leading ore of Silver.

Origin Of The Name

The name Galena comes from the Latin word "galena" which means "lead ore".

Interesting Facts

Galena is by far the greatest ore of lead. Galena is the most common mineral containing lead, and contains mostly lead. Since the extraction process is so simple, lead has been extracted from Galena since the earliest times.

To quote Allen N Wollscheidt, "Galena, back 75 years ago, was the stuff -- the crystal -- of crystal radio sets. Surely you have heard of these -- possibly your grand or great-grandparents built radio receivers out of round Quaker Oats boxes, a few feet of copper wire, a pair of headphones and a little "cats-whisker-with crystal" gadget from the hardware store. Some worked so well, they could be heard across the room. Galena is a natural semiconductor and so the forerunner, the enabler, of all the electronic gadgets we have today, from telephones to TVs to GPS navigating systems as well as all sorts of medical equipment -- in short, modern life as we know it.

One of the oldest uses of galena was as kohl, which in Ancient Egypt, was applied around the eyes to reduce the glare of the desert sun and to repel flies, which were a potential source of disease.

Galena was used as a solder used by the Romans for plumbing (the decline of the Roman empire is attributed to lead in the water supply!)

Where Is It Found

Galena deposits are found worldwide in various environments. Noted deposits include those at Freiberg, Saxony; Cornwall, The Mendips, Somerset, Derbyshire, and Cumberland, England; the Madan, Smolyan Province, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria; the Sullivan Mine of British Columbia; and Broken Hill and Australia. Galena also occurs at Mount Hermon in Northern Israel. In the United States, it occurs most notably in the Mississippi Valley type deposits of the Lead Belt in southeastern Missouri, and in the Driftless Area of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. The economic importance of galena to the early history of the Driftless Area was so great that one of the towns in the region was named Galena, Illinois.

What Do We Do With It

Galena is the most important ore of lead. Silver is often produced as a by-product. Most lead is consumed in making batteries, however, significant amounts are also used to make lead sheets, pipe and shot. It is also used to make low-melting-point alloys. Its use as a pigment has declined as has its use in making solder.

Other uses include cable covering, plumbing, ammunition, manufacture of PbEt4 - an antiknock compound in petrol. Environmental concern with lead poisoning, (and cheaper unleaded petrol prices) is slowly resulting in less use of lead in petrol, the metal is very effective as a sound absorber, a radiation shield around X-ray equipment and nuclear reactors, used extensively in paints, although recently the use of lead in paints has been drastically curtailed to eliminate or reduce health hazards, the oxide is used in producing fine "crystal glass" and "flint glass" with a high refractive index for achromatic lenses, used to contain corrosive liquids, ammunition and insecticides.

Metaphysical Uses

Galena is a shinny gray stone with a cubic structure. Like its almost identical twin sister, pyrite, its physical appearance looks like little cubes stacked upon cubes, stacked upon cubes until a larger cube evolves. It is interesting to explore a sample with a magnifying glass. There is no end to the number of images that can be found. Galena is very soft. It is possible to scratch or damage most galena samples with a hard fingernail. Galena is the principal ore of lead. In its natural state it should not be handled extensively with bare hands, as lead poisoning could result. Therefore, it is not a stone like quartz that you can hold for hours with only positive results. It should be touched and held for only a short period of time followed by washing your hands in soapy water. As long as it is within your aura, it will be effective. DO NOT use galena to make an elixir.

Galena is a friend to those in turmoil. When your nervous energy is at a high level for any reason, it is the first stone to bring you to a place of rest. When a high state of stress is being experienced, you could use fluorite to smooth out the stress. But you will still have the same high level of energy. Obsidian calms the stress like fluorite and also lowers the energy level. Galena not only smoothes the stress, it absorbs this high level of negative energy almost completely. This paves the way for centering of all of your systems, physical, emotional and spiritual. It helps to stabilize the mind and aids in refocusing your thoughts. It also calms and balances the nervous system. Galena teaches us acceptance of our limitations, and at the same time assists in the decrease of self-limiting ideas. Galena also stimulates the hair roots to promote thicker hair and helps to prevent hair loss. Galena should be cleansed frequently by exposure to sunlight.

As we move toward the great transition, our vibrations, physical, mental and emotional, are being raised. Galena can be used to cope with this. It can bring us grounded calmness while at the peak of negative emotions, and can bring us away from panic attacks. Remember to keep your physical contact with Galena to a minimum. It is very effective while it is in your aura. It can be kept in a leather pouch and worn around the neck.

Physical Characteristics

Color: Lead to silver gray sometimes with a bluish tint.

Luster: Metallic to dull in weathered faces.

Transparency: Crystals are opaque.

Crystal System: Isometric; 4/m bar 3 2/m

Crystal Habits: The cube, octahedron and combinations of the two. Spinel twinning is possible forming flattened crystals. Also massive and granular.

Cleavage: Perfect in four direction forming cubes.

Fracture: Uneven and rarely seen because of the perfect cleavage.

Hardness: 2.5+

Specific Gravity: Approximately 7.5+ (heavy even for metallic minerals)

Streak: Lead gray

Associated Minerals: Calcite, dolomite, sphalerite, pyrite and other sulfide minerals, also lead oxidation minerals such as cerussite and anglesite.

Other Characteristics: Brighter metallic luster on cleavage surfaces than on crystal faces.

Best Field Indicators: Crystal habit, cleavage and, perhaps most importantly, density.

Educational Videos

Geologist Teaching Children About Galena

Museum Quality Pyrite Marcasite Stalagmite Galena Mine IL

1934 Bureau of Mines Movie

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